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MV(N-B)P
2004-07-26 09:29
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

As my wife and I came out of the Top of the Park gift shop Saturday with my belated Father's Day present, Paul Lo Duca was reaching base on an infield single, loading the sacks for Adrian Beltre. So we stood behind the back row of the highest seat in Dodger Stadium and watched.

The ball soared, piercing the night, so high that I felt like I was looking straight at it.

I tried to start an MVP chant - because that's what Beltre would be, at least if this weren't a world with Barry Bonds' statistics.

Scott Rolen of the St. Louis Cardinals has been the designated Bonds alternative candidate for MVP most of the season. Not that he has Bonds' numbers, but he plays a more valuable position more valuably. Great third baseman, great numbers, leading a team to the best record in baseball.

But Beltre's continued surge, carrying the Dodgers with his Gibson-like gait, has to vault him into a place rivaling Rolen.

Beltre's OPS almost crossed the 1.000 threshold Saturday. He was at .997 when he reached base on an error and now sits at .985. His on-base percentage has skied to .371 and his slugging percentage is .614 - which would put him seventh all-time in Brooklyn/Los Angeles history.

For an advanced evaluation, here are the National League leaders in Value over Replacement Player, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.

81.7 Barry Bonds
58.9 Albert Pujols
55.6 Todd Helton
53.9 Bobby Abreu
51.8 J.D. Drew
50.5 Jim Thome
49.8 Adrian Beltre
48.6 Scott Rolen
45.9 Mark Loretta
45.0 Lyle Overbay

Beltre is miles from No. 1 and yards even from No. 2. On the other hand, so is Rolen. So while Beltre may not be this year's NL MVP, with just over two months to go in the season, he deserves to be in the conversation as much as anyone else who isn't Bonds.

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